Hereford band Kinstrife have recently released their debut album 'Fools And Monsters', an excellent affair containing twelve melodic, hard rock gems, with influences from the 80s and 90s sited in a contemporary 21st century rock setting. The guys took some time out to answer some questions on the band, the album, how the pandemic has affected their activities and their plans for going forward in 2021.
Kinstrife are Mike Hoskins (Vocals / Guitar), Alan Kaye (Guitar), Dave Richards (Bass) and Simon Richards (Drums).
'Fools And Monsters' is available on all the major digital sites or as a physical copy through the band's shop - www.kinstrife.bigcartel.com.
Hi Guys, thank you for taking some time to answer a few questions. First off, for those readers who might not be familiar with KinStrife, could you give a short history of the band?
Alan: KinStrife, although not named at this time, was started when myself and Dave (Bass) met after we both auditioned for the same band in 2010. Although nothing became of that band Dave and I stuck together because of the immediate friendship we had. We tried lots of different band members until we found the right ones. I had played in a band with Mike a long time ago (about 2000) and we sort of lost contact when that band faded away, I knew back then I wasn’t good enough to be in a band. Playing with Dave all those years later gave me confidence that I could hold a song or two together, so I contacted Mike who was now singing in another band to try to entice him and he eventually gave in and joined us in 2013. We went through a few drummers until eventually a chance meeting with Simon (who I had gone to college with not even knowing he played drums) at a local car dealership.
Simon: Al mentioned he was playing in a band and I am not sure how it came about, but it came up that I played drums. I asked when he was playing as I would like to come along and listen to his band. I went to a couple of gigs over a few months and thought no more of it. A few months later, Alan contacted me to say that his drummer and rhythm guitarist
wanted to leave, and would I be interested in coming along to a practice and see about standing in on a couple of upcoming gigs they had. This was in 2017 I think. I agreed and went along to a couple of practices and played the couple of gigs they had. I think at that time I assumed that I would just stand in and Al would continue to look for a full-time
drummer as I was already playing with another band. Fortunately, we all got on so well as a band that the guys asked me to stay, and I have been with them ever since.
Were any of you in any bands previously that people may have heard of?
Alan: We had all played in bands. Mike started as a keyboard played in his one band until they realised, he had a better voice than the singer!
Dave: I played in a local band called Scorch.
Si: I was in lots of bands locally. There is always someone looking for a drummer as no one wants to play drums as the amount of kit to lug around is massive. Everyone wants to stand at the front and look pretty with a guitar in their hands!!!!! None of the bands would have been heard of.
And who would you say were the main influences on KinStrife?
Si: Musically I would say any of the rock bands from the late eighties through to the nineties. I am influenced from all types of drummers. One of my favourites would be Phil Rudd from AC/DC. He is massively underrated, but a rock solid, no frills drummer. Another big favourite is Ian Paice. The guy is an absolute legend! I also appreciate lots of other drummers from John Bonham, his son Jason Bonham, Tommy Aldridge and many others. One of my favourite drummers to watch was Neil Peart. If there was ever anyone who was a true master at his craft and a total professional, it would be him.
Al: I am influenced by just about anything that has guitar riffs so Tony Iommi, Iron Maiden, Metallica, GnR etc and definitely Randy Rhoads – if I could play half as good as him I would be happy. But also the Rock n Rollers like Chuck Berry etc.
You released your debut album 'Fools and Monsters' recently. I gather the album has had quite a gestation - what's the story behind 'Fools and Monsters'?
Al: KinStrife started as a covers band to get local gigs and build some confidence and learn to gel as a band. However, writing our own songs was always the goal. I had/have loads of song ideas which need/ed work, I am no lyric writer though. Mike has been writing songs forever and I had had the pleasure of listening to some of these back in 2000 so it was awesome that he has brought some of those to KinStrife. We had 5 songs written and recorded when 2 band members decided to leave so we had to almost start again however this time we were fully modified and had the right team. A further 7 songs came on at a lot quicker pace, so we got back in the studio and recorded it in Sept/Oct 19 ready for release in 2020 but then after releasing 2 singles Covid came! We wanted to do an album launch party on release day but as Covid stuck around so long we decided to get 'F&M' released! It is a collection of old and new. Songs that Mike had wrote in the past and more recently, songs put to my old riffs and brand ideas that were formed in the band room! We will do a belated album launch party as soon as we can!
Where did you record the album? Was it somewhere you had recorded before as a band or individually?
Alan: AR Studios in Hereford.
Si: We found a local guy, Ryan, who we met and got along well with. He had a great set up and having listened to some of his work, he was getting great recordings done. We booked in and went at the recordings seriously. We managed to put down all twelve songs for the drum tracks over three days! the rest of the recordings quickly followed, and we were well on the way to having a fully produced and mastered album. Ryan was great the whole of the way through and post recording as well. He has given us great advice and help with other things as well. None of us had recorded there before,
but I highly suspect we will be back there again for album number two!
Who came up with the title of 'Fools and Monsters'? Is there any significance to the title of the album?
Si: The title was something decided by the entire band. Mike pulled lines from the songs and put them all down on a piece of paper in a list. We were all reading the list and it was unanimously decided that 'Fools and Monsters' was the title. The title is also a nod to the music business. There are plenty of 'Fools' and 'Monsters' in it!
And any favourite tracks on the album and why?
Mike: 'Slow and Easy' for me, just such a great song to sing!
Si: I love all the tracks to be honest, but one that stands out for me is 'Make Me'. I just love the power in it and the lighter and heavier sections that combine to make a great rock song. I think it shows the versatility of the band. Ballad wise, my favourite would be 'Fear', it is just a great rock ballad that will stand the test of time.
Dave: I am with Simon on that one – 'Make Me' is a beast of a song and great to play live in dropped D!
Al: 'Unconditional' for me but ask me tomorrow it may be a different one. It’s a piece of music I wrote such a long time ago so to hear it as such the powerful song it has become is amazing!
Obviously, you haven't been able to play live since COVID struck, but has it caused any other specific challenges for the band? Is the album different in any way to how it might have been if the pandemic hadn't struck?
Si: The only challenges Covid has caused has been not being able to get together and practice the new songs we are writing. We were on our way to the second album when it hit with full force. The album was done and dusted by the time the pandemic struck, so it was not affected musically by what was happening. The biggest issue we had was the
release date for the album, as we mentioned previously.
The general pandemic situation has prompted bands to try alternative ways of reaching their audience – livestreams, podcasts etc? Have you tried any of these and how did it feel doing these? Do you think bands will continue to carry on with these methods if we return to some sort of semblance of normality and do you think the way bands reach out to their audience has changed forever now?
Si: We did not have the chance to do any live streams or pod casts during the lock down periods. If bands want to continue to do these things, I think it will be good. It is another way to get out there and give people who want to listen to your music another platform. In my mind though, there is no substitute for going and playing live. You do not get the
feedback and atmosphere a live audience can give you. Why do you think festivals such as 'Download' are held? It is to come together with other like-minded people and enjoy the music you love. Music speaks to people on so many levels and is part of the human culture, pre dating any TV or smart phone. It is in our DNA and is part of us. The only way to appreciate it fully is to listen to it being performed live. There is no substitute for that!
How is the music scene in Herefordshire // Worcestershire? Are there any other bands - rock or otherwise - from the region that you'd recommend to readers?
Si: The music scene in Hereford and Worcestershire is pretty poor. There are very few venues willing to book bands to play original music, let alone rock music. We have to travel further afield to where it is appreciated that you write your own music. We are willing to travel to get our music out there as what we do is real! We are not just playing the same old sad pubs covering 'Sex on f**king Fire'! This is all people want to listen to around here and there seems to be twenty different bands playing the same boring set list in the same boring pubs. Hey, if that is your ambition, go for it. It's not mine!
And what do you think of the state of hard rock / heavy metal generally at the moment? As a genre, it's perhaps more reliant on live shows than some other genres; do you think things will bounce back strongly when things open up again?
Si: The rock scene (and I encompass all types of rock in this) has always been there. It will never go away. It has its ups and downs, but it still remains. At the moment it is a great time for rock. There are hundreds of brilliant bands out there all trying to be heard. With modern platforms now, this makes it easier, but you still need to fight to be heard. All types of music will bounce back after the pandemic and rock will be there with them. The only reason it may be more reliant on live shows is because these live shows are normally a much bigger event than the teen pop dross out there. Go to a
Metallica show then go and watch Justin Bieber! You tell me which one gives more energy and more of a show!
What are the plans for KinStrife going forward in 2021?
Si: We are looking to get back gigging, but more importantly, we want to get our new stuff practiced and get into the studio again and record the second album. There is plenty of material for it already.
And finally for us 'old rock fans' out there (!) - Zeppelin, Sabbath or Purple?
Si: Deep Purple. Ian Paice is a legend!
Al: Sabbath with Ozzy for me.